UNF Writes Self- Talk© Rubrics
The purpose of the UNF Writes Self-Talk© Rubrics is to help students learn how talk to themselves about their own writing in something like the way expert writers talk to themselves about their work. To this end, we have written the rubrics in the form of statements that, with some practice, anyone can use to determine at what level of sophistication they have mastered one or another component of their writing.
Rubric 1: Thesis (or Central Idea)
Rubric 2: Logic (Logical Coherence and Development)
Rubric 3: Evidence
Rubric 4: Mechanics (Grammar, Syntax, Punctuation, Spelling)
Rubric 5: Intellectual Mastery (of Any Concept)
Download the Rubrics
Rubrics for Other Components of Writing
There are many possible traits for which “self-talk” rubrics could be devised. We have focused on the above five because they specify important features of a type of writing—the thesis-driven analytic essay—that students are required to do throughout their college careers.
There are other types (genres) of writing for which one could devise self-talk rubrics. These other types of writing include:
- Lab reports on experiments. This type of writing requires the writer to formulate a hypothesis, conduct an investigation that follows a precise procedure, collect and analyze data and discuss its pertinence with respect to the hypothesis, and draw conclusions.
- How-to manuals and “instructions” of all sorts. These require the writer to explain, step by step, what the reader must do in order to bring about the outcome that the manual or instructions are designed to help you achieve.
- Annual reports. These require the writer to describe what an organization has done over the past year, explain the costs and the benefits, and show how the outcomes contribute to the institutional mission.
- Reviews. These require the writer to describe another person’s work (its content, its structure, its arguments and conclusions), to evaluate it, and to recommend or not.
It is important to understand that no one just “writes.” One always writes in some genre and for some audience with certain goals in mind rather than others and under certain constraints (a deadline, for example, or a length requirement or restriction).
There is no single way to write well because there is no single kind of writing. Different kinds of writing involve different features, elements, or components—different “traits.” Some kinds of writing—the analytic essay, for example—require the author to formulate a thesis, to develop one or more arguments in order to elucidate the meaning, implications, and importance of the thesis, and to provide appropriate and adequate evidence in support of the argumentation.
Thus, other rubrics could be devised for any “trait” that an instructor wishes students to master—for example, conventions of style (such as MLA or APA), or conventions of a particular genre (for example, a summary paper, a research paper, a contract, a letter of reference, a personal statement for an application to law school), originality, persuasiveness, sophistication of vocabulary, sentence clarity, and so on.
Again, we have presented five rubrics that distinguish among seven levels of achievement on five aspects of a basic genre of paper—a thesis-driven analysis—which will be assigned in many of the courses you will take between now and graduation. These rubrics can be used to assess your own writing as well as the writing of others—including the writings in this reader.
Why Seven Levels?
We have specified seven levels per trait to make explicit that the levels of intellectual achievement or mastery are not necessarily the same as the levels for particular grades. Some faculty might regard a rating of 4 on “Level of Intellectual Mastery” as earning a student an A. Some faculty might regard a rating of 5 as necessary for an A. In either case, however, just because a student earns an A does not mean that he or she has achieved the highest level that might be possible.
Athletes understand that what constitutes the equivalent of a top grade changes as one enters at higher and higher levels of competition. Each successive level requires increasingly sophisticated skills. In Little League, to hit a home run a player must hit the ball 180 feet and clear a fence that is approximately four feet high. In the major leagues, a player must hit the ball 270-400+ feet and clear fences that are much higher. In track and field, the best female high school athletes can vault 12+ feet; the best female Olympic pole vaulter has cleared over 16.5 feet; and the world record holder has ascended over 20 feet. What is true of baseball and pole vaulting is true of all sports: every athlete readily recognizes that the “bar” is raised as one moves from high school to college and beyond. In each of the sample rubrics, the highest level points to an artistic understanding and performance of any trait, perhaps as Olympic records point to incomparable athletic achievements.